by Andrew McAskill and James Davey | Reuters
LONDON – Many British gas stations were still dry on Friday after a chaotic week, with panic-buying after a severe shortage of truck drivers strained supply chains at breaking point, fighting at pumps and fuel piling up in water bottles drivers were observed.
Labor shortages in the wake of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown some sectors of the economy into disarray, disrupting fuel and medicine deliveries and leaving more than 100,000 pigs on farms.
Ministers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government have insisted for days that the crisis was over or over, but retailers said more than 2,000 gas stations were dry and Reuters reporters in London and southern England Said dozens of pumps were still closed.
Queues of often angry drivers rushed to open gas stations in London.
“I’m totally, totally fed up. Why isn’t the country ready for anything?” Ata Uriakhil, a 47-year-old Afghan-born taxi driver, was the first to line up more than 40 cars outside a closed supermarket petrol station in Richmond.
“When’s this going to end?” Urikhil said. “Politicians are not able to do their jobs properly. The government should have been prepared for this crisis. It’s just incompetence. “
Uriakhil said it has lost about 20% of its normal earnings this week as it waits for fuel instead of picking up customers.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said on Friday that 26% of the pumps were dry, 27% had just one fuel type in stock and 47% had enough petrol and diesel, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said on Friday.
“Independents, who total 65% of the entire network, are not getting enough fuel deliveries compared to other areas such as supermarkets,” Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retail Association, told Reuters.
Ministers say the world is facing a global shortage of truck drivers and they are working to ease the crisis. They deny that Britain’s departure from the bloc is the result of an EU labor exodus, and dismiss concerns the country is heading towards a winter of shortages and power cuts.
Although there is a shortage of truck drivers in other countries, EU members have not seen fuel shortages.
pig farms are struggling
The Conservative government this week changed behavior on migrant workers, allowing some foreign workers to drive trucks and come for three months to fill gaps in the poultry sector.
Opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer said the government was not moving fast enough.
“The Prime Minister should have taken emergency action today but still he has failed to understand the gravity of the crisis. If it needs legislation, let’s call back Parliament,” he said.
Army drivers are getting training this week and Sky News said they could be deployed as early as Saturday to assist with fuel delivery.
In addition to the chaos around gas stations, farmers are warning that tens of thousands of pigs could be killed by a lack of butcher and slaughterhouse workers.
The pig industry told retailers to continue buying local pork and not to cheapen EU products, saying business would collapse and livestock would be killed if producers were not given immediate support.
The pandemic and Britain’s post-Brexit immigration rules combined to hit the meat processing industry have resulted in a 25% drop in weekly slaughter of pigs, which was already struggling for workers.
“As a result of labor supply issues at pork processing plants, we currently have an estimated 120,000 pigs on UK pig farms that should have gone to slaughter,” the National Pig Association said in a letter to retailers.
“For some the only option would be to raise pigs on the farm.”
The Pig Association said it appeared to have reached an impasse, despite efforts to persuade the government to ease immigration rules.